The Oscar nominations for the year 2020 have officially been released and have fans on the edge of their seats. Everyone is looking forward to see which of the nominated (strong) performances will bring home that gleaming golden trophy. Will the Oscars step out of its comfort zone and award the underdog nominees? Or will it predictably align itself with the winners of this past week’s Critics’ Choice and Golden Globes?
The latter appears most probable. Both the Critics’ Choice and Globes handed Best Picture to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood; an expectable result as Hollywood’s timeless heartthrobs Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio played the lead and supporting actor. Tarantino’s self- indulgent, satirical film portrays a bold rendering of a story on the American western front that captivates the audience with its stomach-turning finale.
But can the Oscars inch away from predictability and consider awarding a film like Greta Gerwig’s Little Women – a warm and generous post-Civil War romance - best picture? This is unlikely as 2020 director nominations feature all-men such as Martin Scorsese, Todd Phillips, Sam Mendes, Quentin Tarantino, and Bong Joon Ho with nothing for Greta Gerwig’s unmatched Little Women or Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
Oscar’s nominations for acting are already the subject of global controversy in the media. The only non-white actor who made the nominee list was Cynthia Erivo for her work in Harriet, with nothing for Lupita Nyong’o’s much-admired performance in Jordan Peele’s Us or Jamie Foxx in Just Mercy.
The #OscarsSoWhite trend from 2016 is reemerging; what does that say about the present state of Hollywood? Is the film industry’s liberal reputation at the brink of collapse? The BAFTA awards did just nominate an all-white slate of acting nominees for this year’s ceremony. Though this year’s Oscar nominations for acting still managed to shut out a wealth of highly regarded performances by actors of color, these much-deserved renditions did earn nominations in other awards ceremonies.
Awkwafina won best actress for The Farewell at the Golden Globes and was a nominee at the Critics’ Choice Awards while Jennifer Lopez was nominated for best supporting actress at the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards, SAG Awards and Independent Spirit Awards for her role in Hustlers. Will a best lead actress victory for Cynthia Erivo over her acclaimed white counterparts - Scarlett Johansson, Saoirse Ronan, Charlize Theron, and Renee Zellweger - be able to eradicate some of the Oscars’ notorious white prioritization? A win for an up-and-coming actor such as Adam Driver over a famed competitor like Leo DiCaprio in the best actor category may help liberalize today’s flawed Hollywood film industry. For now, it looks like Joaquin Phoenix will take home the prize for Best Actor.
The final question: who will host the much awaited Oscars on February 9? The Twitter account for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made a short list of things viewers should expect this year. Green checks were placed next to stars, performances and surprises. However, the academy did not mention a host. In 2019, the show ran without a host after Kevin Hart stepped down from the job when old homophobic tweets of his resurfaced. The show hadn’t been without a host since 1989. The potential host-less 2020 Oscars may very well negatively affect its viewership.
Last year’s Oscars, which drew just under 30 million viewers, saw a slight rise from 2018, but still garnered the second smallest audience ever for an Academy Awards telecast. With the 2020 Oscars’ almost all white actor nominations, all male director list, and probable lack of host, the future of the awards ceremony industry isn’t looking too bright.